Sound Engineering & Recording

912 members

DonnieAlan / Donnie Alan 7mo+20dy ago
One of the hardest things to get right in a mix, in my opinion, is reverb. We all like how adding reverb brings tracks alive, but there's a tendency to overdo it, especially on drums and vocals. One of my biggest complaints with many of the VI's out there, even the top end ones like Dune 3, Serum, or even Omnisphere, is how they seem to wash the patches in reverb on the factory patches, or the 3rd party patch libraries. As I researched more about reverb and tried different ways, I came across this little technique which I find can make reverb shine without washing over the track. The technique is to use a side chain compression on the reverb. The video below will explain it pretty well. The concept is to put a compressor on the reverb aux track before the reverb and then send a side chain of the audio to the compressor before it hits the reverb. What this does is allow more of the dry signal through without washing it with reverb, but then quickly adding the reverb when the audio drops off, providing a nice reverb tail which you can set to taste with whatever type reverb fits the mix. To make things even better, adding a parametric EQ after the reverb on the aux track will give you more control over how the reverb itself sounds..which frequencies shine more in the verb and so forth. I find I prefer doing that instead of using the EQ controls that are on the reverb plugins. Most of the time I find that those don't really give me the fine control over the reverb sound as well as using one of my favorite para EQs. Its also interesting to experiment with putting the sidechain compression BEFORE versus AFTER the Reverb plugin. It does change the character of how the reverb will sound. Before the verb, and you're compressing the dry signal. After, you're compressing the fully reverbed signal. Is one "better" than the other? Depends on the mix, the song, and what you want. As a friend of mine whose a pro mixer in Nashville likes to say, "If it sounds good, it IS good!" And this technique will work for delay effects as well. And it works on any audio, not just vocals. Experiment and have fun!


7 people like this: beethonin, JennyK, spookyoblomov, MikeyMojo, FingerFolkie, PabloGabriel, foreverexe


Login to Comment
comment.user.userName PRO

tbase2000   commented 7mo+19dy ago

Hmm. Interesting. Thanks!

comment.user.userName PREMIER

DonnieAlan   commented 7mo+19dy ago

It really does make a difference. Its a technique I use all the time now. Try it!

comment.user.userName PLUS

FingerFolkie   commented 7mo+19dy ago

'Interesting, but it's hard for me to see how this would replicate reverb extracted from the environment, for example, a good room. One unattractive feature of modern recording is artificial sound. I have several objections to what I heard, but I don't want to get into a protracted discussion until I figure out if I can do something similar.

comment.user.userName PREMIER

DonnieAlan   commented 7mo+19dy ago

David - Bear in mind that this technique won't apply to all situations. For example, for an acoustic guitar, the natural room resonance should come through. But often with vocals, there is little natural room resonance, especially if you want to place the vocal in a wider space, such as a cathedral or large hall using Convolution Reverbs. This technique can do that but with washing out the entire track. It comes down to what you are trying to do in the mix. Its also a means of giving you more control over the sound, even with a natural space. Try it out. Play with the compression controls, especially the threshold, ratio, release, and makeup gain. The attack should usually be quick, but tweak to taste. I think you might be surprised at the results.


JennyK   commented 7mo+18dy ago

Good stuff. I haven't used a sidechain in this particular way before, but from my experimenting just now, I'm a fan. The guy's voice gave me hives, but the concept is sweet. Very useful. :D

comment.user.userName PREMIER

DonnieAlan   commented 7mo+18dy ago

Good, Jenny. Glad its useful for you. Try putting a parametric EQ after the Reverb plugin as well. That way you can really control which frequency ranges shine in the reverb and which can be pulled back.